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The Boston Globe reports this morning that the new battleground for beer brewers is whether their beverages taste better in glass or aluminum.

“It all started this month when Boston Beer Co. president Jim Koch, the maker of Samuel Adams, released his Beer Drinker's ‘Bill of Rights,’” the Globe reports. “One major tenet: ‘Beer shall be offered in bottles, not cans, so that no brew is jeopardized with the taste of metal.’

“For brewers and drinkers of canned beer, this was the shot heard 'round the beermaking world. Canned beer has long dominated the market and in recent years, a growing number of microbreweries have begun using cans because of improved technology that makes it cheaper and easier to package their craft beers.”

Koch says that canned beer imparts a metallic taste – and feels so strongly about it that he has turned down numerous entreaties to package Sam Adams in cans, even though such a move would have generated millions of dollars in revenue.

Believers in the canned beer experience, the Globe reports, say that “aluminum gives beer longer shelf life, protects it from the destructive effects of light, and gets colder more quickly. As for a metallic flavor, can backers say that's hogwash, because plastic lines aluminum cans to prevent such an aftertaste.” (Koch says that the lip of the can – which is where people drink from – is aluminum, and that’s what ruins the taste.)

“I wouldn't have named my beer after a revolutionary if I was afraid of generating controversy over my principles,” Koch tells the Globe. “I recognize others have different standards and may make compromises that I'm not willing to make.”

Of course, none of this debate takes into account the latest evolution of beer packaging that seems to be catching on – aluminum bottles.
KC's View:
Since beer consumption is down in the US, and there are even some reports that more people say they drink wine regularly than drink beer, we suppose that any debate and generates both discussion and sampling is a good thing.

We have to admit to being on Koch’s side on this one. We can’t even remember the last time we bought beer in cans…it doesn’t even occur to us. But maybe we’ll have to do a taste test this weekend, just in the interest of professional ethics.

Ultimately, we pretty much subscribe to what Robert B. Parker had Spenser say in one of his novels (we can’t remember which one): “The worst beer I ever had was wonderful.”